Flying is a serious business. It can be stressful, and it requires a lot of concentration. You need to be able to make quick decisions and think clearly under pressure. That's why the FAA has strict regulations when it comes to drinking alcohol before flying. Pilots are required by law not only to have no alcohol on board their aircrafts (unless they're partaking in FAA-approved training), but also not to drink any before or during flight time—which includes flights that take off after midnight or land before 7am local time anywhere in the US or Canada.
It's a question every pilot has asked at one time or another. Can I drink the night before flying? The answer isn't simple, and it depends on several factors.
First off, there are two main types of pilots: commercial and private. Private pilots are allowed more leeway with their alcohol consumption than commercial pilots because they aren't carrying passengers on board--and therefore don't have to meet as many FAA regulations. However, even private pilots must follow certain guidelines when drinking before flying:
Drinking alcohol the night before flying is not a good idea. While it may seem like the perfect way to unwind after a long day, drinking can affect your judgment and ability to fly the next day. A hangover caused by dehydration can make you feel disoriented and dizzy, which could lead to bad decisions while flying.
Additionally, alcohol affects the liver--an important organ for pilots because it metabolizes chemicals that are found in jet fuel and other airplane parts (like plastics). When you're working with gasoline fumes all day long as part of your job description (and let's face it: who isn't?), then having an impaired liver function could be dangerous for both you and everyone else on board if something goes wrong during flight time!
If you wake up feeling sick, take it easy that day.
If you have a hangover, don't fly. If you are still tired from the night before and need to rest more before flying again, do not go. If it's been more than 12 hours since your last drink and your body is still recovering from alcohol consumption, don't fly yet either!
The FAA gives pilots a fairly wide berth when it comes to alcohol consumption. They're more concerned with how much you drink, not when or where or with whom.
The FAA sets the maximum allowable blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.04 percent for flying under IFR and 0.02 percent if VFR conditions exist within eight hours of flight time. However, they do not prohibit pilots from consuming alcohol while flying--they simply recommend that pilots refrain from drinking if they feel their judgment may be impaired by doing so.
In general, pilots are advised not to fly within eight hours after consuming alcohol. The FAA is very strict about this rule and will fine or fire a pilot who violates it. Pilots are not allowed to take any medication that could impair their judgment while flying an aircraft.
The FAA's rules on drinking before flying were established in 1991 after an infamous crash in 1989 where two pilots were drunk at the controls of their DC-10 passenger jet. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that both men had been drinking heavily before taking off from New Orleans International Airport for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). They were returning from Mardi Gras celebrations when they crashed into another plane on takeoff killing all 248 people aboard both planes and five others on the ground
As you can probably imagine, pilots need to be careful about drinking the night before flying because of how quickly they can get in trouble if they make mistakes due to being hungover. If you wake up feeling sick, take it easy that day and consider skipping your flight altogether. If you don't feel like yourself or have any doubts about whether or not it's safe for you to fly, don't go up until those feelings pass (or at least until after your next shift).
If this happens once in a while, it isn't too much of an issue--but if it becomes a habit and starts affecting your performance as a pilot regularly enough that other people notice an issue with how well or poorly things are going for them on their jobs as well? That's when things start getting bad fast!
As a pilot, it's important to know the rules about alcohol consumption and flying. The FAA gives pilots a fairly wide berth when it comes to this issue, but you still have to be careful. If you wake up feeling sick, take it easy that day. If you do decide to drink before going out on the town, make sure not too much time passes before getting behind the controls again--and keep an eye on how much your body can handle!